Who We Are
Late One Night, Jake Luhrs Sat Outside The Chicago House of Blues
Late One Night, Jake Luhrs Sat Outside The Chicago House of Blues
Stories of addiction, depression, self-harm, heartache, war, fear, and hopelessness echoed in his mind. Every night, a fan would share a different story.
Although Jake was the well-recognized frontman of August Burns Red, he was at a loss for how to help. He wasn’t a mental health specialist and he screamed into a mic for a living. Not exactly the picture of expertise his fans needed.
Deep in thought and prayer, all Jake knew was that something had to change.
Divine Inspiration struck
And That’s When He Got His Answer
- Build a place where people can come exactly as they are and explore healing
- Provide relevant resources to an increasingly digital generation
- Teach them to give back and help others grow stronger together
HeartSupport Was Born
Every year we help men and women brave their wounds, find purpose, and discover healing. Our goal is to create a legacy of life-transformation, freeing them from suicide, addiction, abuse, and mental health issues while empowering them with the realization they are loved unconditionally and supported by a community that believes in them.
Meet The Team That Helps Carry The Vision
Our Board of Directors
Jake Luhrs is the lead singer of Grammy-nominated metal band, August Burns Red and founder of HeartSupport. To date, he has toured hundreds of countries internationally and reached the Top 10 BillBoard charts multiple times. After seeing his fans struggling through addiction, depression, and suicide ideation, he prayed one evening for a way to help his fans and people around the world find hope and faith. The answer to that prayer was HeartSupport. In the short years Jake has been running HeartSupport, he has united bands and fans alike to carry a message of hope, healing, and restoration to a scene that is typically viewed as “dark” and “without hope.” His efforts thus far have led the organization to be nominated twice for philanthropic awards up against the likes of Doctors Without Borders and the American Cancer Society. In 2016 he won the Artist Philanthropic Award at the Alternative Press Music Awards in recognition for his work at HeartSupport. In addition to HeartSupport and his band, he also runs a clothing line company called “More Weight” that inspires others to reach and achieve their health goals through community support.
Dr. Gretchen Wolfe
Gretchen Wolfe remembers the launch of air guitar. Not taken seriously by her cool, garage band peers, she focused aggressively on higher education for the next two decades. Gretchen became a high school English teacher in the late 80s and spent the next 25 years balancing motherhood with the pursuit of advanced degrees and working in numerous leadership and administrative roles in K-12 public and private schools in Wisconsin. Her experiences in conference presentations and educational publications has always been centered in teaching learners of all ages in holistic and culturally-relevant ways.
Gretchen found doors opening in local non-profit organizations in south central Wisconsin, at the same time of completing her Doctoral degree in 2012 from the University of Wisconsin Madison, Since the tragic loss of her son to suicide in 2015, Gretchen remains solidly connected to the National Alliance for Mental Illness, and initiated a campaign to unify local veteran organizations – Let Freedom Roll for Military Mental Wellness. She is a regular attendee and volunteer at motorcycle or music festival events for mental health outreach.
Gretchen is blessed with three beautiful children. Her son, Will, is in heaven, playing his guitar for eternity. Her daughters Maddie and Miki are adulting as two amazing young women of Generation Z. As she continues the fragile acceptance of grief and trauma recovery with loving support, you will find Gretchen aggressively promoting life change, especially for those who struggle with trauma recovery and depression. Invisible wounds are real. With a heart that eagerly engages in the flow of music, catches wind therapy with her motorcycle, and maintains her spiritual armor, Gretchen is excited for any opportunity to keep doing excellent air guitar, whether it be alone, or with new friends she is meeting through her Heartsupport family.
Dr. Michelle Saari
Michelle Saari has been an advocate and mental health professional for over 15 years. She holds both a Ph.D. and Masters degree in psychology and is a licensed mental health provider, and Board certified clinical supervisor in the state of Minnesota. She is also a Nationally Certified Counselor through the NBCC (National Board for Certified Counselors). As a long time fan of the heavy metal music industry, she was aware of the negativity and darkness that many in the scene face. Seeing Heartsupport as a unique blend of the music community, relationship building and hope for those struggling, she began volunteering on the ground at Vans Warped Tour. Michelle has helped the organization grow to reach even more people while encouraging others to live the healthiest lives they can and discover their best self. Outside of her professional service, she can be found exploring the outdoors, spending time exercising, and attending as many concerts and music festivals as her schedule allows.
As Executive Director of HeartSupport, Dave is tasked with growing the HeartSupports footprint throughout the nation and beyond.
He is entrepreneur and 27 year college and high school basketball and football coach. Dave stepped away from coaching and business to dedicate his energy to impacting culture with hope, purpose and community. In the last decade, Dave helped develop the iMatter Foundation and initiatives. The iMatter Foundation is an educational based not-for-profit purposed to help those suffering with self-harm and addiction.
Dave has vast experience in building and maintaining teams and team health.
Dave’s a seasoned speaker who uses energy and humor to deliver advanced leadership concepts to the venues he engages. Among his passions is helping entrepreneurs launch new businesses.
Dave is a devoted husband to Robin (36 years) and father of 2 daughters, Cassia and Hannah.
dr. Justin Holcomb
Justin Holcomb is an Episcopal priest and teaches theology at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary and Reformed Theological Seminary. He previously taught at the University of Virginia and Emory University.
Justin holds two masters degrees from Reformed Theological Seminary and a Ph.D. from Emory University.
A prominent advocate against sexual abuse, Justin’s book Rid of My Disgrace: Hope and Healing for Victims of Sexual Assault has been a resource for many inside the community at HeartSupport. In addition to HeartSupport, Justin serves on the boards of REST (Real Escape from the Sex Trade) and GRACE (Godly Response to Abuse in Christian Environments).